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Must! conducts fact-finding tour of area non-profits 


Students participating in the children’s farmers market program.

–In the last seven years, Must! Charities has committed more than $1.7 million to local organizations serving the greatest social needs in San Luis Obispo County. To further strengthen its efficacy in supporting targeted solutions to our community’s challenges, Must! Charities recently completed its inaugural Familiarization Tour of North County non-profits.

Becky Gray, Must! executive director, along with the charity’s volunteer Collaborative Contributors Group toured and met with leaders, staffers and participants at Anna’s Home with Restorative Partners, Community Counseling Center, RISE, Paso Robles Youth Arts Foundation, Meals that Connect, Atascadero Loaves and Fishes, and the Life House Center with Transitions Mental Health Association.

“As we entered our seventh year we came to the realization that we need to continue to expand our educational component and increase knowledge of what organizations are doing to better our community,” said Gray. “Being able to do this in a condensed time frame gave us further insight on similarities and differences across the non-profit sector. It was eye-opening, informative, and also allowed for greater discussion.”

Community engagement and awareness is key, as Must! Charities funds organizations that are most effective at dealing with the greatest community needs. In the past few years, Must! invested in several organizations, such as CASA, where its support allowed the organization to increase the number of area foster children it serves. It used to serve 30 percent; now it serves more than 50 percent. Must! recently helped ECHO transition from a volunteer working board to a governance board seven full-time employees. It also helped a Boys & Girls Club grow from serving 100 youth in to serving over 500.

“The Familiarization Tour is another innovate example of must! charities commitment to our community,” said Cara Crye, CEO of Farm Supply, a member of the Must! Collaborative Contributor Group. “For Must! members to have the opportunity to tour our local non-profits, talk with their leaders and with those who benefit from their work really gives perspective of where our resources are most needed in the future.”

Sister Theresa, Executive Director of Restorative Partners said, “It was great to welcome the Must! Charities Familiarization Tour. Members got to meet our women and children living at Anna’s Home, learn about their lives and challenges and witness firsthand the Restorative Partners’ mission of healing those impacted by addiction, incarceration and family separation. It was powerful for our staff and participants to know that local business people care about other members of their community and are willing to take time out to visit us onsite. Out of the visit came some job opportunities for our women and other ways to support our mission.”

For Atascadero Loaves and Fishes (ALF), which is operating at capacity, it is important to meet with stakeholders to discuss its expansion plans.

“The Atascadero Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry is operating at threshold for space to store food and provide for those in need. It is important we communicate our services and accomplishments to surrounding communities including Must! Charities as we pursue necessary facility expansion,” said Tim Eckles, ALF Board President.
“Touring these organizations made us more aware of the needs in our community,” says Becky Gray, “And also the need to bring together more community donors so that we can support more non-profits in our region. We have a lot of work to be done.”

One-hundred percent of Must! Charities’ community donations go directly to support projects in the
community. This is made possible because Must! Charities’ Executive Board covers all overhead expenses.
To learn more or become a partner, please visit or call (805) 226-5788.

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About the author: News Staff

News staff of the A-Town Daily News wrote and edited this article from local contributors and press releases. Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on , Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog. He can be reached at

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